Babyshambles, Roger Daltrey

Johnathan Browning 12/01/2009

Could it really work? Babyshambles performing a collaboration with Roger Daltrey sounds like a strange combination on paper. When typing Babyshambles with Daltrey into Google to find out what it's all about you find headlines from yesteryear in NME quoting Roger as saying, Pete Doherty is wasting his life. Yet here they were, Babyshambles and Roger Daltrey gracing the same stage at Bristol's recently renamed O2 Academy (formerly Carling Academy).

The story of how this one-off charity gig came to happen is all rumours. Claims in The Sun newspaper that Doherty would be replacing Pete Townshend for a Who concert were unfounded. It is true that Pete Doherty befriended a sixteen-year-old cancer sufferer named Daniel Squires who lost a leg and eventually succumbed to the disease. As a patron of The Teenage Cancer Trust, Daltrey was suitably touched. This was a chance for Roger to bring some much-needed positive publicity to Babyshambles before the band return to the studio for work on their third album.

Babyshambles entered the stage with Doherty donning his trademark trilby hat, and the Academy erupted. The place was jumping, with plenty of pushing, shoving, kissing of random strangers, and drinks being flung in the name of a good time.

Half a dozen songs were beaten out before Doherty introduced Roger Daltrey, who was accompanied by Simon Townshend - the brother of The Who's guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend, and member of their touring band. Unsurprisingly, the only songs Daltrey performed were Who numbers that he could no doubt produce in his sleep if he was inclined to partake in a bit of somnambulism. The only one that he may have had to re-learn was Legal Matter, which is not something The Who have taken on the road for years, but seemed appropriate given Doherty's notoriety.

There were inevitable hiccups, like when Doherty sang the same opening verse three times during I Can't Explain, leaving Daltrey in stitches of laughter. But the experience of witnessing a genuine rock icon embracing one of today's most valuable talents was not lost on the audience.
Babyshambles left the stage to allow Daltrey and Townshend to perform Behind Blue Eyes as tribute to young cancer victim Daniel Squires, whose parents were in attendance. Daltrey then broke into an impromptu couple of Johnny Cash numbers where Doherty crept back onto stage - cigarette in mouth - and accompanied him on drums in what felt like a special moment.

Daltrey and Townshend then departed, allowing Babyshambles to burst into a rendition of Delivery, and the place went hog wild once more. The final act was for Roger to return in a passing of the torch and sing My Generation, conceding that at 64 years of age his song now belonged to a new generation of rock 'n' rollers.